Caden Price is a left shot defenceman the Leafs may select at 28th overall
Photo credit:© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
3 months ago
One thing about defencemen is that they typically need a bit of seasoning after getting drafted before they are able to get in position for a team to bring them up to the NHL. A guy like Aaron Ekblad immediately making it to the show is the exception and not the rule, so teams acknowledge that they will have to exorcise some patience when they go with a defenceman.
If there is a blueliner who can be among the most effective when on his game and just needs to find a way to keep it consistent, it might be worth pursuing getting them to work with the development staff. A defenceman playing out west fits this description and is the subject of today’s post on deep dives with potential Leafs prospects.
Caden Price is a Canadian defenceman who is currently playing for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. With a height of 6’1″ and weighing 181 pounds, the 17-year-old already has great size for someone of his age and could easily grow a bit taller. The left-shot blueliner is coming off his second season in junior where he registered 40 points (five goals and 35 assists) in 65 games while adding on two points in four playoff games as the Rockets were swept by the Seattle Thunderbirds in round one.
Price’s most consistently strong attribute is his skating. Defensively, he constantly makes it difficult for the opposition to fully get past him; offensively, he is great at getting the puck up the ice and staying aligned with his teammates on the rush. He also does well in protecting the puck by shaking off the defender and getting the puck down the ice to get things rolling at the other end. Once things are settled at the other end, he can create open lanes with his mobility and playmaking abilities which made life easier for his teammates to get a better scoring chance. And Kelowna needed every bit of that scoring output because he was easily the best-producing blueliner on a Rockets team that was the fourth-worst team in the WHL that barely made the playoffs.
Price’s highs are a sight to behold, but his lows are anything but. While his skating allows him to stay in plays, there are times when he pinches in too much and is unable to hold a clean gap. He may sometimes like to play the body, but for a player of his size, he can often be passive in physical play and not much of an imposing figure. This leaves him susceptible to making mistakes when retrieving pucks or when under pressure in his own end. These mistakes stem from the fact that he was inconsistent throughout the season and was not able to go on a sustained run of sustained success in all assets of the ice. It certainly didn’t help the Rockets improve their stock since had an early postseason exit as mentioned earlier.
Now that can be attributed to the fact he is so young and the Rockets didn’t allow him to fully experiment because of a poor structure and lack of support, but Price could have certainly done more to improve his stock. He himself admitted to wanting to be harder to play against and has been modelling his game to the likes of Miro Heiskanen and Jakob Chychrun, so perhaps some more time developing will help raise his ceiling. But as it currently stands, he tops out as a third-pairing two-way defender.
What the scouts are saying
Ranked #41 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #37 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #42 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #37 by DAILY FACEOFF
Ranked #73 by THE HOCKEY NEWS
Ranked #38 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #60 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #56 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #49 by HPR/SHANE MALLOY
Ranked #32 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #28 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #50 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Chris Peters, Flo Hockey: “Beyond a good skating ability, I’m not sure you can say any one element of Price’s game stands out. He’s average sized, has average offensive capabilities, defends well enough and he’s got a good work ethic on the ice. He looks like he could round out into a bottom-pairing defenseman with a chance to boost his stock with a more refined offensive game.”
Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff: “His game-to-game play varies, but when Price is on, he can take over and be the best player on any given shift. He’s a strong skater who throws hits with purpose and loves to rush the puck.”
Scott Wheeler, The Athletic: “One of the younger players in the draft due to his late-August birthday, Price impressed scouts with his creativity and vision at last summer’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup and was Kelowna’s most productive defenceman as a 17-year-old this season. He’s got good size and sees the ice at an advanced level, consistently executing east-to-west plays and passes through coverage. He plays the game with confidence, transports the puck smoothly, and can use his feet to influence play. I would like to see him scan and shoulder-check a little more defensively, as he can be prone to mistakes going back to pucks or under pressure in his own zone. He’s got some work to do to put all of the pieces together but I expect him to take a big step next year.”
Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects: “Two-way puck-moving defenseman with good mobility and a refined defensive game. Projects as a well-rounded top-four blueliner at the NHL level.”
A defenceman that is looking to find some consistency in his game is something that some teams might not be willing to take a chance on because they don’t have the patience to wait. But if they are willing to give the player some time to round into form and improve the kinks in their armour, it could make them look like geniuses in the long run.
Price could fall into that category because he is a pretty solid skater who does well in keeping up with the play defensively and getting the puck up the ice on the rush. There were flashes of his playmaking abilities, but those were overshadowed by inconsistent play throughout the year. Still, this is a player worth betting on because he has great size and won’t turn 18 until August, meaning he still has plenty of time to improve his overall play.
The Leafs could see Price as someone worth investing in and working with the development staff, which makes him a guy who could be in contention for them when it’s their turn at pick 28.
Stats from Elite Prospects.
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